LIVERPOOL (Reuters) - Everton’s Theo Walcott struck just after halftime to secure a 1-0 home win over Newcastle United on Monday that took the Merseysiders up to eighth in the Premier League, their highest position this season.
After an uneventful opening half at Goodison Park, Ayoze Perez should have put the visitors ahead in the 50th minute but shot wide of Jordan Pickford’s goal after being put through by Brazilian Kenedy.
Moments later, Everton went in front when Yannick Bolasie whipped in a deep cross from the right and former Arsenal winger Walcott brought the ball down before taking his time to fire home the winner and lift them to 45 points from 35 games.
Tenth-placed Newcastle had plenty of late pressure, as they searched for a point that would mathematically clinch their top- flight survival, but they were unable to create an opening and stay on 41 points, 12 above the drop zone with four games left.
Everton have climbed above Leicester City will finish in a respectable league position after a poor start to the campaign that threatened to see them entangled in the relegation battle.
“If we keep winning we keep getting better. I think eighth in the league compared to fifth from bottom tells you we’re getting better,” said manager Sam Allardyce, who took over in November.
Despite the improved results, Allardyce has not been a popular choice with many Everton fans who believe his approach to the game is too rudimentary.
“What was wrong with our style today? We dominated the game, out-passed the opposition. You have to be patient,” said the much-travelled 63-year-old.
“You can’t knock our football. You can knock some of the passing that goes astray but you can’t knock me for that, I don’t pass the ball. We try and limit those mistakes every week,” he added.
Newcastle are virtually assured of survival and manager Rafa Benitez said they could have gained more from the game with a little extra finesse.
“I am pleased with the effort of the players but this final pass in the final third can make the difference,” said the Spaniard.
“We are really strong. Just to stay in the Premier League was the target and we are really pleased with that.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris